book review

Review: Don't Look Back

10:43 PM


Hi. I'm very calm right now. Especially considering I just finished Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout and MY EMOTIONS.

But first, I will give you all the important information. So you can go buy this book and read it too.


Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Me
Pages: 369


Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend. 

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. 

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?



####

Pretty much the only thing that bothered me a little were the many smoldering-eye-contact/kissing-but-not-kissing/definitely-kissing moments in the romance. It just made me a little uncomfortable and also at some points made me think it was going in a direction that I didn't want it to go aka cliche. 

It never went to that point. But it had me worried a few times. :D

Now that I've got pretty much the only negative thing (in my opinion) out of the way, we can look at the awesomeness of everything else.

The people were amazing. They were amazing because they were real. Everybody has flaws, pain, coping mechanisms... in Don't Look Back I could see that. There were some characters that were a little cliche, but I didn't bother me too much because 1) they were only a little cliche and 2) they were secondary characters.

My favorite people were Sam and her twin brother Scott.

One of the reasons I really liked them and their relationship is because of the huge switch from before Sam's "incident" to after. Sam was a cut-throat high school queen and then she is a really nice person. It was really neat how much she couldn't believe that that was how she used to be.

It confused the heck out of the remaining mean girls (I loved the confusion)-- it confused the heck out of everybody. I loved the Sam I got to know-- strong, caring, impatient -- and I loved watching the other characters get to know her again, whether they liked the changes or not.

And even though the romance was probably meant to be the highlight relationship of the book, my favorite was the way that, after Sam and Scott got know each other, they were close and stood up for each other. It was like neither of them knew it, but both of them had just been waiting before for a chance to be close.

I JUST REALLY LIKED THEM.

I had my doubts about Carson, the one she's "falling hard for", because almost everything about him screamed the classic quiet, intense hottie that is featured in a gazillion books. Buut I warmed up to him. It was a close one though. ;) The thing that really won me over, I guess, is that he was there for Sam even when he was mad at her or hurt by her. Even when everything was messed up, he was there. He didn't ask for anything in return.


The mystery of the whole story was everything that I expected and more! There were tantalizing hints of what might have happened. Information was dropped in a way that didn't make sense by itself. And the fact that the mystery was all tied up in the dynamics of the real world and the dynamics of Sam's head, since she had memory less, was amazing. I didn't guess the culprit. Darn.

That's all I will say. Spoilers are imminent if I go further.




Oh. My. Gosh. Here is where I really gush. I could feel everything that Sam felt. I was afraid when she was afraid, I was frozen when she was. When I stopped in the middle of the book to go to sleep, I made sure the curtains were closed all the way.

Armentrout wrote all of Sam's emotions so vividly, so right.

I got confused along with Sam when her memories popped up randomly, in no particular order with no particular meaning. When you read a book, you're supposed to completely empathize with the main character and I think this is where the author did the best. I was completely in Sam's head, from the first page to the last.


And lastly (finally), is that am I the only one who's life was totally justified when Sam said she liked watching all the movie previews that play before the actual movie?? Apparently no one else in my family does this.


My Rating: 


Have you read Don't Look Back? Did you like it?

Alsoooo....HAPPY NEW YEAR! The actual New Year is about an hour and a half away where I live but who's being techinical? Not me. My family and I do a thing where we give gifts on New Year's eve. It's like our Christmas. *grins* Let me tell you, the couch looked fabulous with all those gifts on it. Best wishes and hugs from me to you, lovelies. :)

Disclaimer: I was not reimbursed for this review in any way. All opinions or thoughts expressed are my own. 

20 things you may not know about me

20 Things You May Not Know About Me

10:48 PM

Note: I wrote some of this ages ago, but I'm gonna leave it in because personality. The intro and questions 1 & 2 are the old ones. 

*sigh*


As I type, I just sat down on my bean bag a few minutes ago and have lots of homework and a soccer game to go to. 

I just don't feel like it though. 

That's a problem I have a lot. Anywho, if you're wondering what this has to do with this post, well, I'm writing this post to get something done while at the same time relaxing. 

And that's why you'll be learning 20 things about me that you may or may not have wanted to know. ;) 

1. How tall are you?
5'4" And I'm gonna follow Sophia's lead and tell you that that's approximately 163 cm. In other words, short. #pride

2. Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
I'm guessing you mean something that most people don't know about me. Huh. OH. I can put my foot behind my head and also I'm pretty good at catching almost any kind of ball. ADDED: Good reflexes. What can I say? I was born with them. *wiggles eyebrows*

3. What is your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
I really don't like it when bloggers don't reply to comments on their posts or if the formatting is unprofessional on a blog. If there's lime green type on a black background or mis-aligned borders, it really throws me off. 

4. What's your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?
I hate it when people pity other people and it's the farthest thing from sympathy.

5. What is your favorite song?
-_- How can you ask things like this? Music literally saved my life during this last semester of college (which was my first) and it's really hard to pinpoint one song.

How about a list? *grins winningly*

Home to Mama by Cody Simpson & Justin Bieber
Blank Space by Taylor Swift
Coward by Hayden Calnin
Outside by Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding

Aaaand I also got crazily into K-pop. Korean pop music for those of you who aren't familiar with that term :D So here's some K-pop.

Moonlight by Got7
Lovesick by B.A.P
Peter Pan by EXO
Beautiful Target by B1A4

I've come to learn that almost all K-pop groups' names are capitalized or acronyms or both. XD

6. What is your favorite Etsy shop that isn't yours?
This probably defies the average-blogger-type, buuuut I don't really do Etsy. It's just really pricey so I don't look even if I want to ;)

7. What is your favorite way to spend free time when you're not alone?
Watching movies and TV shows for sure. Or browsing stores like Ross and T.J. Maxx which are basically stores that re-sell a huge assortment of everything at lower prices than the original seller.

8. What is your favorite junk food?
Junk food is awesome. I refuse to think of chocolate as junk food (because it's not obviously) so I would say either Cheetos or sour cream & onion potato chips. Yes, they're as delicious as they sound. 

9. Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind, and what are their names?
I do have a pet! A gorgeous puppy (not really...she's actually four years old) called Kim. She's an amazing mix of we-don't-know-how-many breeds. I would put a picture on here but I don't think I have one handy. *le sigh* 

10. What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
This is unanswerable. I haven't read nonfiction in a looong time and there's no way I can pick a favorite fiction book. Sorry. You shouldn't ask these questions ;)

11. What is your favorite beauty product?
Um...hm...

I don't usually use make-up but when I do my favorite's probably mascara. I hate putting it on because I'm awful at it but I don't have long eyelashes so... 

12. When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
OH. MY. GOSH.

Okay. So this is what happened. I am not a sports person. I reject exercise. Therefore, I know the game rules for like zero sports and I don't even watch sports on TV except for football (the American kind) sometimes.

I went to a whiffleball game with a friend at the beginning of the semester. I didn't want to. I was forced. Anyway, whiffleball is kind of like baseball except less hardcore and it was really casual cause kids were playing too, etc.

The first time I hit the ball I tried to run with the bat.

>.< I still cringe.

This is why you shouldn't make me play sports, people. 

13. If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) what would it be?
Gatorade. That way I have many flavors. ;)

14. What's your favorite movie?
NO.

I loved How to Train Your Dragon 2. And Guardians of the Galaxy. Don't make me choose between those two, just don't. 

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
I was homeschooled all through high school so I have no idea whatsoever. If I had to guess, though, I'd say a combination of nerd, loner, and artist. Bam. 

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Oh gosh, I don't know. Arizona? Great Britain? Ireland? I feel like I need to see more of the world to decide on my favorite place. In the end, no place feels like home without my family. 

17. PC or Mac?
PC. I'm just much more familiar with it. And compared to Mac it seems a lot more user-friendly to me. There aren't like five steps to take a screenshot. 

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
*chokes* HA.

How bout never.

19. Favorite celebrity?
I don't really keep up with celebrities, but maybe Jennifer Lawrence. 

20. What blogger friends do you secretly want to be best friends with?
Too many to count! (I know how exciting it is to see your name but it's not very exciting if you aren't named) Let's just leave it at-- there are some of you that I'm already best friends with ;) some of you who I keep in touch with and we're on our way to being besties, and some of you who I haven't met yet. <3


Hope you liked reading all about me! (Because I'm awesome.) Besides that, ahem, thanks Sophia for the tag! It was in October. Oops. But you're awesome! I had loads of fun answering the questions.

I tag:

Briana @Reader, Writer, Critic
Aneta @The Graffiti on the Wall
S.R. @McKade 

and anyone else who wants to join in. :) Put a link to your post down below and I'll go check it out and leave a comment. 

book review

Flash Review: Ticker

10:58 PM


Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
Publication date: December 1, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape
Format: e-ARC
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 273

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder. 

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?


####

The premise of someone having a mechanical heart completely grabbed my attention. And the cover. The cover also grabbed my attention. :) 

I don't know if it's just me being dense but I couldn't really tell that Ticker was steampunk from its blurb. So I really loved the way I could immediately tell that the story world was steampunk when I started reading. From the clothing to the mechanical horses, there was complete immersion but it didn't feel like info dumping either. 

And from a girl who loves gadgets, let me tell you-- Ticker's got it all. Mechanically operated boxes for pastries, mechanical beetles who serve as library guardians...there is no end to the fascinating technology. The thing that really impressed me is that many of these things were ones I had never read before in other steampunk novels. Points for originality!

Names. The names were super cool. They sounded like they fit in the storyworld. The only problem with these awesome, and usually quite complicated, names is that I had a hard time remembering them. I have this problem a lot because I'm awful at names in general. It's not a huge deal (I just winged it wrote them down somewhere I could reference to) but something that might affect your reading experience.

Now for the biggest thing I didn't love...

The romance wasn't great. I felt like almost everything about it was cliche. It was too fast, it was too expected. It just didn't meet the quality of the rest of the book. The main character Penny meets the guy and instantly starts feeling the "symptoms." Butterflies, lightning-- you get the idea. And to me, not only was the romance itself something that I've read a thousand times (and loses even more in my sight because it's insta-love), the love interest was so love interest-y. He fit almost all the criteria for a certain type of love interest. He seemed harsh and cold but in reality he was caring, kind, only acting that way because of his past, because he was hurting. He was physically "perfect." He was dutiful. He had scars. I have nothing against love interests or anyone for that matter having a past. I think it adds depth and something to sympathize with to the story, but it just didn't work for me this time. 

Of course this next point I'm going to make is completely relevant to personal situations, but I'm not rich in real life. I'm actually kinda broke. So I experienced twinges of annoyance when money or expensive things were treated so flippantly in Ticker. Just because someone is rich doesn't mean that they can't be conscientious about their riches and how they treat them.

Overall though Ticker was an amazing, fast-paced read set in a steampunk world. Perfect for one of my first books this break! ;) I think some people might say it was wrapped up a little too neatly in the end, that it wasn't as hard as the rest of the book. But I thought that was fine because 1) I am a character softie. They better get out alive. And 2) they already went through so much...I think they deserved a break.

So, I would recommend this book to people who like traveling at break-neck speeds, sweet pastries, and the intricate gears of steampunk.

My Rating:

Disclaimer: I was not reimbursed for this review in any way and received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

books

Top Ten Books of 2014

10:37 PM

The great year of 2014 is winding down...and this of course calls for a recap of my favorite books of 2014, through the awesome Top Ten Tuesday linkup courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish. :)



It was hard but not as hard as I thought it would be. Drum roll please. :) These are not in any particular order.

1. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen



Honestly, this book had me turning pages SO fast and my emotions didn't know what to do. Even though the premise of trolls and the way the author dealt with story building was fantastic, I think the book's strongest point was in the characters. I was so invested! They were written like all amazing  characters (at least to me), very complexly.

2. Hex Hall trilogy + School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins


      

No, I'm not cheating by listing four books for one slot. Nope. ;)

The thing is, though, that the whole Hex Hall trilogy and School Spirits (not shown here) are so amazing that I couldn't leave them out even a little bit. Besides the Hex Hall books are obviously all in the same series and School Spirits is a spin-off so it's all good. 

These books are paranormal set in modern times. It sounds cliche but these books stand out from so many others. From the paranormal world to the character dynamics to the awesome sarcasm, it was the best series I read this year. Promise. 

3. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge 



COVER. Look at its gorgeousness. It's one of my favorite covers of 2014 for sure. The story ripped my heart to shreds. Apparently I like that kind of thing because it was amazing. The characters were filled with pain but the author wove the story so beautifully. It was like...maybe these two broken people could fix each other and it would make the world seem better even if the world itself couldn't be fixed.

Just urgh. Heart wrencher.

4. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin



First of all, this was the first book I read that dealt with a person that has mental issues. Michelle Hodkin completely portrayed all the emotions perfectly. And to top that off, I loved the characters too. I haven't read the next two books though because I'm so scared. O.O

5. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay



Juliet Immortal is based off the idea that original story of Romeo and Juliet was never true. That is the most intriguing thing ever for me. PLUS this is a paranormal re-telling. Uh huh. It was really easy for me to empathize with Juliet too because even though she went through so much she still cared about people and did the right thing.

6. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater



Oh. my. gosh. This book was like opening a whole new world in front of me. Not only was it a paranormal when I hadn't read many of those but Stiefvater's writing is so different from other writers. It's crazy. And it's written in such a way that magnifies the whole "fantasy" feel I think.

7. Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt



This was a story about discovering and empowering yourself. Add a character who talks and thinks like me? Yes, please.

8. Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel


With the so-so cover and the younger MC, I didn't think I'd like this book at all. But anything with fairies + zombies + dust bowl has to be fabulous, right? It definitely impressed me. :)

9. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross


IT IS STEAMPUNK. Steampunk I tell you. If you know me, you know I love everything about steampunk from the clothes to the automatons. The big thing here though was that even though the plot and action was great, I fell in love with almost every single character. Especially the main character Finley. She is so kick-butt. 

10. The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper


This is about a girl gifted with the ability to see, hear, and speak to ghosts. I just really liked the writing style, the main character (Sparrow), and the whole heart-breaking story. 

Those were my top ten! Have you read any of them? What did you think? Are there any books that you think I really have to read? SPILL ALL. 

blogging

Big Plans (Cue Evil Laugh)

6:27 PM

Hey guys! So I have been catching up on sleep and food and other essential things these last few days. FIRST DAYS OF WINTER BREAK. Excuse me while I do a happy dance. That is like one of the only best things about college that I completely support. But I say that it's deserved because what the heck is a two day long fall break?

Okay. I'll stop hating on the system. ;) (For now.)

My main purpose right now is to give you a game plan on the future of Life of a Random. This last semester I didn't have any idea how to incorporate blogging into my busy life but that doesn't mean I want to quit at all. It means I'm going to find a way to do blogging anyway. *grins*

1. You can expect regular discussions, reviews, or link-ups starting this next week or sooner.

2. I have LOADS of books to read-- ones I've bought, ones for review, physical ones, e-ARCs. Everything. I'm also planning many trips to the library so: reviews! That also means I'll be pre-writing reviews to be published throughout the next semester.

3. I will try my hardest to create a schedule. I know I've said this before. >.< But I do need some kind of structure now that college is a factor. I'll be working on that...

Anywho, I am so excited to be back. You guys are the best and it always makes me feel so happy and fabulous when I remember that I have a whole community of people like me that I'm a part of.

*hugs*


'bout this blogger tag

'Bout This Blogger Tag

11:22 PM


Since I'm planning on coming back in full force on my blog soon (YOU CANNOT STOP ME), Cait's tag celebrating her new blog website Paper Fury is a perfect post. But before I start talking all about my blog, go check out Cait's! Seriously. She's awesome. 

RULES: Grab the set of ten questions, answer them, and use Cait's button or link back to paperfury.com. You can also add your post to her linky if you want. :)

'Bout This Blogger
I feel like I've used this before but I can't contain my swag, guys.

1. Why did you start blogging?

Because I wanted to have a way to express my feelings, I guess, of just whatever. At first, I used my blog to just talk about my life or different things I had opinions on. Just the idea that people were seeing my posts, even if it was just 5 views, was an awesome feeling. Especially since they weren't family members ;)

2. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

The story behind my blog's name is that I tried and tried to come up with something cool but I couldn't think of anything so...yeah. I just settled with Life of a Random. Because life, I talk about it, and me, a random. Logical, right? *grins* But now that I've had it for a while, I've grown to really like it because it doesn't confine me to one area of blogging. 

3. How many designs have you been through since you started blogging? (Pictures! We demand pictures!)

HAHAHAHA ha. Ha. A gazillion. I don't even know. I'm completely serious when I say probably around ten. If I'm exaggerating, I'm only exaggerating a little bit. 

I don't really have pictures... Lemme check though. 

After some digging, I've discovered that it's basically the headers that I mess with the most. Like, countless. Headers. 

Maybe a few of you remember the steampunk-ish header I had for ages with the gears and stuff on a creamy background. I have no picture. I think all evidence has been swallowed in the black hole of new-computer-that-has-no-beautiful-memories. 

The one right before my current one.
4. Have you ever switched blog platforms? What made you move? If you haven’t ever changed…why?
I haven't. Just because I'm used to the way Blogger works and I've kind of worked out the little secrets to tweaking it and I also really like the blogger comment system. I feel like the Wordpress one takes too long. 


5. How long does it take you to write
 a post? What’s your postly process like?

I don't really have a set process or a set time. Cause I'm cool like that. :P Usually, book reviews take me the longest and book hauls and discussions take less time. 

My postly process... do I even have a process? Um, for posts (at least when I blogged regularly) I read books for review than usually reviewed them the same day or a couple days later or maybe even more spread out if I had to search for the exact right way to say what I wanted. I do book hauls whenever I get new books. And then my discussion posts are usually sparked by a book I read or something I disagree with or something I have a strong opinion on. Sometimes I write it out all at one time and sometimes I finish it over several days. It's a very flexible process. ;)

6. Have you ever been super nervous about a post? Why?! What was it?

I can't remember a specific post right now, but I always get nervous when I write a review for a book that's received a lot of hype. So, I'll question myself a lot more. Like, do I not like it because it's so hyped up? Did I really review it logically? I have a very loud inner editor. It doesn't succumb to threats.

7. Do you have a blogging schedule?

I do not. 

I have tried. 


8. Do you tell people In-Real-Life about your blog? Their reactions?

I do tell people about my blog, but I brush past it and don't give them a lot of time to actually react. I'll be like, "Oh, yeah, I have this blog. I've done it for a little while. What did you say your hobby was?" One thing I think is different from most bloggers is that I have not let any of my family read my blog except for my sister. I just--the blog is me. A very true, book-crazy (sometimes weird) me. 

9. Top ten blogs you read/comment on the most! Go! Go!

I don't have a Top Ten because I have been bad and haven't been active at all. BUT, the ones I have kept up with a teensy-weensy bit are:


THIS DOESN'T MEAN I DON'T SEE AND READ ALL THE OTHER BLOGS THAT I FOLLOW OR THAT FOLLOW ME. I do. I'm just not good a keeping up with commenting. 

10. If you could change/improve things about your blog, what would they be?

Everything? Heehee. 

Actually I think maybe the organization of it and probably still, yes, *le sigh* the design. Hey, I'm an art major. I am never finished tweaking. The art major has nothing to do with that but whatever. I would also like to have scheduled posts on certain days of the week, but knowing me that will never happen. Sadly. 


Was that fun for you? It was, wasn't it. I can tell. I can see things. *stares at you intensely* If it was fun, then I think you should go check out Cait's blog and do it for yourself. You'll love it. Promise. In the mean time, like I told you guys before, December is going to be a huge getting-my-blogging-act-together month. Any suggestions? What were your favorite posts before? What has been YOUR favorite look of my blog? 

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